By Drew Gitomer, Emily Hodge, and Rachel Garver

On December 16, 2022, Governor Murphy signed legislation that removes the Educative Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA) as a statewide requirement for teacher certification in New Jersey. The edTPA, adopted by New Jersey in 2016, is an assessment that is administered and scored by Pearson Assessments and paid for by each teacher candidate. Under the new policy, each educator preparation program will be responsible for designing and/or selecting a performance-based assessment to evaluate candidates.

The governor and sponsoring legislators framed the removal of edTPA as a key strategy for overcoming teacher shortages—Governor Murphy also created a task force on public school staffing shortages in November 2022—and the change was met with widespread approval from associations of teachers, administrators, and educator preparation programs. While some have suggested that the edTPA is potentially exacerbating teacher shortages, others have raised concerns about the effect of the edTPA on the diversity of the teacher workforce. Research is needed to track whether this change will indeed alleviate teacher shortages and increase the number of certified New Jersey teachers of color that better match the demographics of New Jersey students.

Much will happen as this policy initiative proceeds from law to implementation. The Department of Education has yet to issue specific administrative guidance.  Programs will need to make sense of this legislation, including selecting or creating their own assessments, coordinating their efforts with assessment commitments from accreditation plans, and taking account of considerations and challenges at play as they figure out their next steps. In our project, supported by the New Jersey State Policy Lab, we hope to understand more about the real-time experiences of key stakeholders in this policy change, including educator preparation programs, the state Department of Education, and students themselves.

We will interview representatives from educator preparation programs to learn about the factors shaping their decision-making about the next performance assessment they adopt. What models are considered and ultimately chosen for collecting and reporting evidence about pre-service teachers’ readiness to teach?

We also plan to interview state Department of Education officials to get their perspectives on the policy and its implementation, including how they might support educator preparation programs through this change.

Finally, we hope to survey pre-service teachers to learn about how future educators perceive the new assessments, particularly in light of so many students’ negative perceptions of the edTPA.

Understanding how this legislation is taken up in practice to define and measure “good teaching” and the challenges that programs and students face is critical for understanding how we can best support a strong, diverse, and well-prepared teacher workforce in New Jersey.